Earlier, as we enjoyed the potluck and introduced ourselves, I noticed this t-shirt. I asked Scott about it, what it meant to him. GREENWICH STREET. You see, from 1973-1978 I lived in a loft at 357 Greenwich Street, the entire third floor. We now call that TriBeCa. TRIangle BElow CAnal. I was the first tenant in this former cheese storage warehouse. I built that home, I sanded those oak floors, those chestnut beams. I installed all the electrical wiring and plumbing, the pool table, the fireplace…2500 square feet. Eight 4’x8′ floor to ceiling windows.
I watched Battery Park City constructed and emerge over the Hudson River. My loft was five blocks north of the Twin Towers. On May 26, 1977, leaving my home to film my soap, Search For Tomorrow, I noticed everyone on Greenwich Street looking up. I did too…and discovered George Willig, climbing up the outside of the South Tower to its very top.
Tonight Scott told me, the t-shirt was something he’d bought in NYC during a visit…but I still appreciated the synchronicity. I welcomed offering after offering, applauded enthusiastically, enjoyed myself immensely in the company of so many talented, accomplished artists. The evening drew to an end…and then a man stood up and shared a spoken word piece, a memory of his interactions with his father, as a younger man. His father had smoked Pall Mall cigarettes.
Suddenly, on an impulse, I raised my hand and Suzanne allowed me to “call an audible”. I rose, moved to the center of the room. I spoke of Jung and synchronicity; that the more synchronicity one notices, the more it occurs. I then pulled off my t-shirt, revealing my scars, tattoos and a nicotine patch on my left chest. I told everyone that I began smoking Pall Malls in 1961; that I had enjoyed them consistently ever since that time, without shame or regret. However, that I was now facing some pretty consequential surgery in the days ahead…and that I’d agreed to end my longstanding relationship with Pall Malls.
Tonight was DAY TWO without tobacco. I hate the Welbutrin, the anti-depressant I now take. It makes me downright fucking stupid, dull, light-headed…but it will allow me to wean myself from this lifetime addiction to nicotine. Just hearing those words – PALL MALL – that shit was as affecting, as arousing to me as a close encounter with a full breasted woman! If my yearning had physicality, I was suddenly fully erect and leaning forward! Goddamn, I wanted a fucking Pall Mall. But see, that’s why I take the drugs….
This too shall pass, the immediacy of this yearning. Each day will get easier. But I have no illusions about the future. You do something, anything, 20 times a day for 57 years…something that you truly enjoyed… THAT ain’t going away, not ever, not in this lifetime.
The important thing is to HAVE a lifetime.